Week in Review: November 30


This week on the blog you can check out:

This week has been pretty busy between prepping for Thanksgiving and my mom’s birthday this weekend. It’s officially been a year since my mom’s surgery and I think we did a good job this week making newer and better memories.

I hope you all had a great holiday/week too!

So that’s my week in a nutshell. How was yours?

Who’s joining me for Monday Memories this week?

So I started a Crochet Club . . .

Earlier this year the library hosted a yarn bombing of the youth wing entrance. It wasn’t organized by my department and I’m still not totally clear who put it together, but everyone was really excited about it. The feedback was fantastic and it generated a lot of interest in knitting and crocheting among the patrons who came into the library.


So after hearing from so many kids that they loved the yarn bombing and crochet in general, I asked my supervisor about the possibility of starting a Crochet Club for kids. This was in planning stages since August and I had my first two sessions in November (with a gap because of Thanksgiving).

Crochet Club isn’t exactly what I envisioned. But it’s close and it is getting there.

The first thing we did was a supply order. Because of where the library already has accounts, that meant I had to order from Dick Blick. Unfortunately that did mean there were some limited options but I did eventually find everything I needed.

The supplies I ordered were:

  • Sets of plastic crochet hooks (I prefer metal but they only had plastic. If you are in a position to order individual hooks, that would be fine but I had to buy multiple sets with the knowledge that some hooks will not be usable sizes with my yarn supply.)
  • Yarn (My choices were wool or cotton. Since I’m allergic to wool I knew we had to go with cotton. Acrylic is easier to work with when starting out but it wasn’t meant to be. The yarn I wound up with is the equivalent of sport weight yarn. I would have preferred worsted as it’s thicker but again, had to take what I could get. I went with a variety of colors with 2-5 skeins each.)
  • Blunt embroidery needles (In retrospect I ordered too many of these but if the kids every get to the point where they can handle making actual projects these will come in handy for finishing and weaving in ends. If we get to that point, I also think they’ll disappear at a fierce rate so it’s better to have several.)
  • Fiberfill (It turns out that fiberfill is sold by weight and its extremely light-weight. So I now have a life time supply of fiberfill. Anyway in terms of small projects I assume eventually all crocheters want to make stuffed animals which means you need stuffing)

Before the program started I set down the age guideline of 6th grade and up (my target age was 11 I think but it got printed as 6th grade and up in our program flyers). Programs here tend to skew younger so I knew I’d probably get littler kids. My theory with that is that everyone is welcome to try but if they really aren’t catching on or into it, I’m fine with suggesting the kids leave to do something that’s more fun for them.

I intentionally avoided picking out any patterns as I wanted kids to pick up technique first. Because we are working with thinner yarn my initial idea was to have them make a sampler bookmark using chain, single and double crochet stitches.

It turns out that was wildly ambitious even as a starting point. But that’s okay because it’s a learning curve.

At my first session I had one girl who was in fifth grade. She caught on quickly and left with a chain crochet necklace. She tried to do single crochet, didn’t like it and went back to chain crochet.

In my second program I had the same girl (who I didn’t recognize because she is never, ever in the library except for Crochet Club! I’m still so ashamed!) and several kids from the afterschool program that has arbitrarily decided to use the library as a base of operation.


The kids ranged in age from 5 to around 10. The 5 year old unsurprisingly wasn’t into it. I tried to show him how to finger crochet but that didn’t work either. He came and went saying hi to his friends and seeing what everyone else was up to.

The other kids ranged from advanced to super beginner. The girl I had my first week remembered everything she had learned and was a champ working by her self for most of the session.


A couple of the after-school kids caught on quickly–including a boy who was single crocheting for part of the program–but it was hard to police their technique. Everyone was working too tightly and I don’t know how to explain the tension to them in a way that makes sense. The kids also had some weird ideas about how to hold the crochet hooks in that they were using them more like picks than hooks (I think this is because some of them were coming from having done a Rainbow Loom program the day before). While that’s fine for chain rows, they were all working too tight to actually do anything with said chains.

(After thinking more about this I realized the kids were all grabbing any hook so they were working too small. I’m going to take a step back and start the class with an intro explaining skeins, hooks and gauge sizes. I’m also organizing supplies to make it harder for the wrong hook to be taken by the kids. In addition I plan on setting up a sign in sheet so that regular attendees can borrow supplies and also to discourage latecomers/advise when the program is at full capacity.)


Similarly the kids all seemed to have a hard time letting their left hand do any of the work which is what I am used to when I crochet. I am not sure if this is from years of practice or if it comes easily by virtue of being ambidextrous. (Speaking of which one girl who came was left-handed and figured out how to translate my right-handed demo to her needs like a boss.)


Moving forward I’ve discovered that I can’t let in late comers because it derails my ability to help others. Maybe if I get a regular group and they get more advanced that will work but not right now. I also think for the time being (particularly as the program skews younger) I’m going to try capping at 10 kids (or less) to keep things a little easier to manage as I’m the only one in the room with crochet experience.

I’m also going to start doing group introductions and some kind of sign in sheet so that I can learn names and so that, as we continue, regular attendees can also borrow hooks and maybe yarn (mostly hooks) to practice.

My other plan is instead of a one-on-one demo to try a group demo with the kids watching me to see if that’s easier than flitting from person to person.

Honestly, I’m thrilled with the progress the kids made even if some of their final products weren’t the prettiest. One girl in particular had a hard time getting started but she also said she plans to practice before the next program. They all were enthusiastic and excited to be there which is all I could have asked for.


Have you ever taught someone else to crochet? Any tips or anecdotes?

Whisper the Dead: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra HarveyCousins Gretchen, Penelope and Emma are still learning to control their new-found powers and understand what it means to be members of one of the oldest witching families, the Lovegroves, in 1814 London.

Penelope struggles with a familiar that frightens her and unwieldy powers that allow her to read the past in objects. Emma, on the other hand, now has antlers to conceal while trying to find a way to rescue her father from the underworld and convince her mother to assume her human form instead of  that of a deer.

Reluctant debutante Gretchen, meanwhile, is still not entirely sure of the full scope of her powers. Or what embroidery has to do with magic. Gretchen will have to harness her powers as a Whisperer who can hear the spells of dead witches if she wants to help stop the dark witches the Greymalkins from wreaking all manner of havoc in London and beyond.

She will also have to contend with the frustratingly proper Tobias Lawless and other Keepers tasked with keeping the cousins under surveillance. The only positive is that with so much danger and problems ranging from angry ghosts to werewolves, Gretchen will definitely be able to avoid any balls for the foreseeable future in Whisper the Dead (2014) by Alyxandra Harvey.

Whisper the Dead is the second book in the Lovegrove Legacy. It is preceded by A Breath of Frost.

Recaps and multiple viewpoints help summarize key events from the first book in this trilogy. The narrative focus also shifts from Emma to Gretchen in this volume. (Presumably the trilogy will conclude with a book focused on Penelope.) These facts make this volume approachable and only slightly confusing to new readers.

Rollicking action and mystery come together with humor and charm to make this a fast-paced and engrossing story. A well-developed romance and a cliffhanger ending help guarantee that Whisper the Dead will have high appeal and leave readers eager for the final installment.

Possible Pairings: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, The Woman Who Loved Reindeer by Meredith Ann Pierce, These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, The Amulet of Samarkand by Johnathan Stroud, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the August 2014 issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen in various sites online*

A Breath of Frost: A Review

A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra HarveyLondon, 1814: Emma, Gretchen and Penelope–three cousins and reluctant debutantes–discover their families have been hiding a host of secrets one snowy night at a dull party. It starts with a broken bottle and a fire. It ends with the cousins discovering they have magical powers and a girl found dead, her body covered in strange bruises and, stranger still, a coating of snow.

With their powers unbound, the gates of the underworld open to allow all manner of nasty creatures from the underworld including the feared ghosts of the Greymalkin warlocks–three dark witch sisters–to wreak further havoc across London. Worse, more debutantes are turning up dead.

While all three cousins try to understand and control their new powers, Emma has an added problem. Somehow she is connected to the murders; she keeps finding the bodies. With the authorities targeting her as a suspect, Emma will have to work with Cormac–an unlikely (and entirely too attractive) ally–in order to clear her name and find the real culprit before it’s too late in A Breath of Frost (2014) by Alyxandra Harvey.

A Breath of Frost is the first book in Harvey’s Lovegrove Legacy–a trilogy which will presumably allot one book to each cousin. The second book, Whisper the Dead, will be published in October 2014.

In this alternate historical London, magic runs rampant for the people who know where to look including the Order of the Iron Nail, Madcaps and various sundry characters and groups readers will have to sift through in the early pages of the novel. Patient readers will be rewarded with explanations of all of these names and a motley group of characters magical and otherwise.

Although the cousins often read more like sisters, Harvey still creates a romantic, adventurous novel with a strong familial bond at its core. The cousins are stronger together–something that is not often featured enough in literature. Magic and mystery come together here to create a suspenseful, if not always perfectly paced, adventure. Filled with wit, adventure, and just the right amount of romance, A Breath of Frost is a delightful start to what promises to be a superb trilogy.

Possible Pairings: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, The Woman Who Loved Reindeer by Meredith Ann Pierce, These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, The Amulet of Samarkand by Johnathan Stroud, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesdays img by Miss Print

TBR lists are my favorite Top Ten Tuesday posts so of course I had to make one! To see what else I’ve been reading you can also check out my November Reading Tracker.

  1. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman: I have a copy well ahead of the release, there is no reason for me to NOT read it.
  2. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters: must read ASAP for reasons
  3. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: This one is calling to me.
  4. How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kiersten White: must read ASAP for reasons
  5. Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan: Cute read from the publisher
  6. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord:
  7. All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry: must read ASAP for reasons
  8. The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick: I want more inter-connected stories from Sedgwick after being dazzled by Midwinterblood!
  9. A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence: This is part of my “put up or shut up” reading challenge where I’m trying to read books that have been on my TBR  for 4+ years.
  10. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti: This is part of my “put up or shut up” reading challenge where I’m trying to read books that have been on my TBR  for 4+ years.

While you’re here you can also check out Monday Memories. Maybe next week you’ll want to join!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

(Image made by me.)

Book Nerds Unite: A Sharing is Caring Giveaway[CLOSED]

Tis the season…and all that jazz. You know how it goes. The holidays start (earlier and earlier these days) and it is all about giving. Well now it is time for some getting. With the help of 19 other bloggers we bring to you, Book Nerds Unite, a Sharing is Caring giveaway.


It’s pretty easy to enter. Just click on the Rafflecopter link or the photo in this post and start following some great bloggers. For your trouble we are offering a first place prize of $150.00 Amazon or Barnes and Nobles gift card and a 2nd place prize of $50.00 Amazon or Barnes and Nobles gift card. Really you are the big winner either way as you get to add some fabulous new blogs to your blog feeds. Good luck!


*Giveaway is US only. It runs from 11/24/14 to 12/11/14. Winners are selected at random. Please don’t mark a blog as followed if you haven’t in fact followed. All entries will be checked. Enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6edd7db620/

**Graphic by Rachel from Hello, Chelly

Monday Memories: And We Stay

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!


This week for Monday Memories I’m talking about And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard.

And We Stay by Jenny HubbardI read And We Stay in January right after it published. I got a copy through Amazon Vine when I was taken by the cover and intrigued by the premise. When I saw that Elizabeth Wein also blurbed this book, I knew that this one would be a winner.

It did not disappoint. In the intervening months I have found myself thinking about this book often as I return again and again to the smart things Hubbard, through her characters, had to say about feminism and friendship in this story. The integration of poetry is also stunningly done.

This is a quiet book. Maybe even what could be called a slow burn. But it is also an exceedingly satisfying read whether you are a poetry lover or not.

If you want to join the Meme fun, just add your link below.

Week in Review: November 23


This week on the blog you can check out:

Well, hello Sunday. I fell off last week with my blogger productivity because I had things to do at home, including this:

But now decorating is done and I am working to remember that having a buffer of reviews doesn’t mean that my other posts will write themselves. This week I did get two guest post features done and wrote up several other things so it’s a start. I think once I get a Monday Memories buffer going my life will be a lot easier too!

Work this week saw me spending one day in three boroughs, getting followed by Bartleby the Scrivener on Twitter, having a couple of hellish commutes and ordering over $800 worth of books for the YA section. The ordering took the better part of three days but I’m finally over the panic and feeling like the collection is going to be better for it.

I’m reading These Broken Stars at the behest of Kayla and I’m enjoying it but it feels like it’s taking longer than it should to finish. I also am starting to follow a plan for my reading to rotate between Want to Read, Committee/Prof Review, Old TBR and Amazon Vine. It’s helping me keep the reading fresh because I can bounce between categories and not get bored.

So that’s my week in a nutshell. How was yours?

Midwinterblood: A Review

“The sun does not go down.

“This is the first thing Eric Seven notices about Blessed Island. There will be many other strange things that he will notice, before the forgetting takes hold of him, but that will come later.”

cover art for Midwinterblood by Marcus SedgwickIn June 2073, Eric Seven arrives at Blessed Island chasing a story. It isn’t the first time his work as a journalist has brought him to the far reaches of society. Nor is it the first time he has encountered strange locals.

But as Eric investigates the mysterious island and a rare flower rumored to be found there, Eric also begins to feel an unexpected familiarity toward the island–especially toward a local woman named Merle.

As Eric and Merle come closer to the truth it becomes apparent that their journey, if it is a journey, is only just beginning. Or perhaps just nearing its conclusion in Midwinterblood (2011) by Marcus Sedgwick.

Find it on Bookshop.

Midwinterblood was the winner of the Printz Award in 2014.

Midwinterblood presents seven intersecting stories of love, loss and rebirth in this deceptively slim volume. Although the stories vary in scope, all are grounded firmly in the landscape of Blessed Island where the more things change, the more some constants remain the same.

These stories span time and theme ranging from the unique problems faced by an archaeologist hoping to unearth a find to make a career to a story of two children in a viking colony plagued by an impossible monster. The loves presented here come in all forms with varying results for those involved.

Sedgwick presents a carefully plotted and delicate story over the course of this novel. It is very rare for a book to work as well when read forwards as it does read backwards, but Midwinterblood does just that. With plot points that transcend individual stories this is a rich, meditative story that begs to be read and read again.

Possible Pairings: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher, Eventide by Sarah Goodman, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He, Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox, The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, Sabriel by Garth Nix, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

November YA Book Displays (Chilling Reads and NaNoWriMo)

I’ll be the first to admit these November displays are a bit off-the-cuff but they did teach me a bit about the collection along the way.

For my first “mini” display I did a Chilling Reads sign. The vision behind this was to have books that were set in the winter. It turns out we have blessed few books in the collection that are not checked out and set in winter.

IMG_1694This display will probably stay up through December because I am quite taken with the sign and it can have many permutations to fill in with books.

For my bigger display I was totally stumped for what to do until Karyn suggested a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) themed display. I’m not super happy with how it looks (the cover images are too small and I had sub-par tape to work with so you can really tell I was taping paper to a piece of foam core) but I do like the idea and I learned that many YA novels began life as NaNo projects. (In fact the only one on the sign that isn’t a NaNo project is Afterworlds but that one has a huge NaNo tie-in.)

IMG_1696And here’s a close up of the sign:

IMG_1697I am happy with the display in that the books on it have been moving which is, of course, one of the big points. The trivia aspect hasn’t gotten as much traffic but I do still want to have the option on there in some way.

I do plan on changing this out in December when I might do a Dynamic Duos display with some books about BFFs or otherwise great partners with a trivia aspect involving people naming the duo (like Maddie and Verity from Code Name Verity) with some quotes and cover images).

I’m also already looking ahead to January when I plan on having both displays involve books where characters seize the day.

What displays have you used in your library for the month of November?